“Dodgers, Coasters, Sherpas, Pioneers and Stars”


Today’s blog title is brought to you by an article on Inside Higher Ed: Calling Out ‘Coasters’ or Name-Calling? Essentially, Rick O’Donnell (former adviser to the University of Texas Board of Regents) released a paper that divides out faculty in five groups:
Dodgers: teach few students and bring in no research funding
Coasters: senior/tenured faculty with reduced teaching loads that produce no significant or new research
Sherpas: untenured faculty who do most of the teaching and produce little or no research
Pioneers: highly productive in research, but do little teaching
Stars: highly productive faculty in both teaching and research

Sort of an interesting comment on the state of higher education today. Not necessarily so much because of the classifications O’Donnell uses but more for the way those classifications seem to fall along the lines of the way the general public sees higher education and the higher education mission as being just about teaching students (usually only undergraduates). Obviously, those of us in higher education haven’t done a great job of actually educating the public about what we do: teaching, research, service, mentoring (I wonder how many of those “coasters” end up spending a lot of time serving as dissertation and thesis chairs for graduate students or mentoring junior faculty?), and a million other things that go on beyond getting grant money (which seems to be O’Donnell’s sole indicator for “research”) or teaching.

In some good news, closer to home, we have a couple of union victories to be optimistic about:

Arbitrator: Quinn must give pay raises [The Southern]
The arbitrator said Quinn’s breaking the contract with AFSCME was wrong and ordered the state to start paying the raises (with appropriate back pay) within 30 days. Quinn and the state are crying poverty in response and continue to insist that the state constitution prohibits spending money that hasn’t been allocated (which money for the raises were not). Not being a politician or intimately involved with the state budget, I don’t particularly have an inside track on where the money for raises is going to (or should) come from but I do know that the state (with Quinn as the state’s highest representative) shouldn’t violate contracts. The Southern has a quote from the arbitrator, Edwin Benn, in this case that seems awfully important:

“But Benn said if the state prevails on that argument, the idea that unions would agree to money-saving multiyear contracts is “probably dead” because unions won’t trust government bodies to live up to agreements down the road if budgets tighten.”

If Quinn is allowed to violate state contracts like this, it’s another step to the end of collective bargaining in Illinois.

Honeywell, union reach tentative deal [The Southern]
A tentative agreement has been reached between Honeywell and the union (but has not yet been ratified by members)! This doesn’t end the lockout but it’s a good sign. Let’s hope the rest of the talks go smoothly.


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